Challenge set for county's next crop of future first-team stars
THE standard has been set for the 2013 intake of Derbyshire cricket academy youngsters – and the challenge has gone out from head coach Karl Krikken.
Six new players have taken the current academy numbers up to 12, plus right-arm seamer Ben Cotton who, having graduated from the programme last year, will captain the side as well as being a member of the second XI squad.
Derbyshire have been well served by their academy recently, with four home-grown players – Paul Borrington, Dan Redfern, Ross Whiteley and Tom Poynton – emerging as key members of last season's LV County Championship Division Two-winning side.
Four others – Peter Burgoyne, Tom Knight, Alex Hughes and Chris Durham – made significant contributions in the Clydesdale Bank 40 and Friends Life t20 campaigns.
Cotton, Tom Taylor, Greg Cork, Harvey Hosein, Greg Massingham and Rahib Ali all added second XI appearances to their range of experience.
Hosein and Will Davis were part of the ECB's prestigious England Development Programme at under-17 level, while former academy duo Danielle Wyatt and Georgia Elwiss were both selected for England's ICC Women's World Cup squad.
Krikken, who established the academy system in his former role in 2003, wants the success of those who have gone before them to be a spur to the current academy members and says they have got to prove they are ready for first-team action sooner rather than later.
"I spoke to them as a group and I told them that I was in their shoes, many moons ago at Lancashire, and you think playing county cricket is a long way off but within two of three years I'd played a first-class game," he said.
"We have to instil in them that although they are 15-16 now, we want them in the side at 18-19. We're not looking to get them in the side at 24-25 because they will have gone.
"Guys like Knight and Burgoyne are coming into the side at 18 and holding their own, that's what we want from the next lot.
"Derbyshire will be as strong as the academy, we've said that for a long time.
"Even though we are having success at first-team level, it's still so important we put it in at junior level to make sure we produce the next Ross Whiteley, Dan Redfern and so on.
"The academy system has done well for us but we cannot forget about it.
"We have to make sure we keep our eye on it."
The county club have announced a partnership with the University of Derby for this year, which will see the academy side playing under the banner of the Cricket Derbyshire University of Derby Academy.
It is believed to be the first university/academy cricket partnership in the country.
"Now there is the added motivation and challenge of Division One cricket in Derbyshire, we've told the academy lads that they need to be even better than the current first-team squad if they are going to make it," said head of development Howard Dytham.
"It's fair to say with a higher percentage of new players on the programme, this year's group is a little younger and less experienced than we've had in the recent past but this doesn't worry me because there is plenty of talent and variety to work with."